Will Pakistan's batsmen fight back?
Match FactsJanuary 29, Christchurch
Start time 14:00 (01:00 GMT)
The perception of this contest is simple: it is a case of two battling batting line-ups pitted against the conditions; whichever team can produce incisive bowling is likely to trigger the opposition's latent tendency to implode.
In the first ODI, Pakistan's batting crumbled like only it can. On their bad days, there is a dull sense of déjà-vu as the batsmen succumb meekly to their technical frailties. What excites the fan are Pakistan's good days: then you gasp at the audacious shot making of a Umar Akmal, Shahid Afridi or Abdul Razzaq, or at the fluency of Younis Khan, or the nudge-dab-slog-sweep routine of Misbah-ul-Haq. If the bowlers are on song too, they look a dangerous outfit.
So far it's been a quintessentially Pakistani start to the series: announce a World Cup team without naming the captain and idly watch cliques develop within the team; have the batting implode in the first game; then explode, briefly as rain ruined in the second game when the conditions were supposed to be loaded against the batsmen, and leave the rest of the world wondering what will happen in the third.
While Pakistan sink-and-awe, New Zealand occupy an ecosystem where discipline and self-surrender seem to co-exist without contradiction. One day, they look like a highly disciplined unit, whose whole seems greater than the sum of its parts, but on another day their frailties seem too weak to hide and they just surrender. The new coach, John Wright, has made some changes: Brendon McCullum bats lower down to strengthen the middle order, Martin Guptill opens with the licence to hunt runs together with Jesse Ryder, and Daniel Vettori drops further down. The news is that Jamie How will open in the next game as New Zealand continue to experiment before the World Cup.
New Zealand: WLLLL
Players to watch out for …
Younis Khan is at his best when he stretches out on that front foot and laces his square-drives. You know then that everything is well in his world. The mind is relaxed, the footwork is positive and he is constantly thinking about runs. On his bad days, he pokes and dabs, and the shot selection can go awry. Which Younis will turn up tomorrow?
Kane Williamson has shown the ability to handle pace and seam and he is a good fit in a team where the top order has shown a tendency to collapse. Williamson provides stability to this side.
Jamie How, the Central Districts batsman, will open for New Zealand and Luke Woodcock and Kane Williamson are likely to play.
New Zealand (probable): 1 Jamie How, 2 Martin Guptill, 3 Ross Taylor (capt), 4 Scott Styris, 5 Kane Williamson, 6 Brendon McCullum (wk), 7 Jacob Oram, 8 Luke Woodcock, 9 Kyle Mills, 10 Tim Southee, 11 Hamish Bennett.
Will Pakistan go with the same team or bring Shoaib Akthar back?
Pakistan (probable): 1 Ahmed Shehzad, 2 Mohammad Hafeez, 3 Younis Khan, 4 Misbah-ul-Haq, 5 Umar Akmal, 6 Kamran Akmal (wk), 7 Shahid Afridi (capt), 8 Abdul Razzaq, 9 Abdur Rehman/Sohail Tanvir, 10 Umar Gul, 11 Shoaib Akhtar/Wahab Riaz.
Stats and trivia
- In the first ODI, Brendon McCullum became the third wicketkeeper to effect five or more dismissals, five times or more. The others are Adam Gilchrist (12) and Mark Boucher (8).
- Mohammad Hafeez's duck in the first game was his third against New Zealand. It's also the 14th by an Pakistan opener against New Zealand.
- Tim Southee's 5 for 33, his maiden five-for, in the first ODI are the best bowling figures by a New Zealand bowler against Pakistan.
"Hamish Bennett is unusual. He's a hustler, he hits the deck very hard, so with the new ball and the extra bounce that he can get, hopefully he can get a little bit more. You need to see what happens on the day and where the wind's going and things like that, but it'd be good to get him inside that first 10 overs and see what he can do with the new ball."
Ross Taylor is excited at the prospect of opening the bowling with Hamish Bennett
"I guess the thing is not to get too distracted by things. You have a job to do just get on and do it. With the World Cup coming up I guess they are looking to rotate guys around, looking at the big picture."
Jamie How says he is ready to open the batting
Sriram Veera is a staff writer at ESPNcricinfo